A world-premiere Huey Lewis musical is the big News at the Old Globe
San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre is about to go back in time with the world premiere of a musical inspired by the songs of the ‘80s hit machine Huey Lewis and the News.
The just-announced “Heart of Rock and Roll” — titled after one of Lewis and Co.’s 19 Top 10 songs — will run Sept. 6 to Oct. 21 on the Globe’s Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage, as the opener to the Balboa Park theater’s 2018-19 season.
Lewis himself revealed the existence of the show Thursday in a video posted on the Rolling Stone website. But the fact it’ll premiere at the Globe was not announced until Friday morning.
While “Heart” is a jukebox musical, it’s not actually about the man and the band (despite TV host Jimmy Kimmel’s stated determination in the video to play Lewis onstage).
Here’s what it is about, according to the Globe’s synopsis:
“Bobby is a former rock singer who has traded in his guitar for a stable job in corporate America. He’s on the verge of closing the ultimate business deal and winning the girl of his dreams (who’s also the CEO’s daughter) — that is, if he doesn’t jeopardize everything by reuniting with his band for another shot at rock ‘n’ roll glory.”
While casting won’t be announced for a while, the Globe has unveiled the show’s creative team.
The director is Gordon Greenberg, whose Broadway directing credits include “Holiday Inn”; he was previously at the Globe with “Working” in 2009.
The musical’s book is by Jonathan Abrams (A&E Network’s “Bishop”), from a story by Tyler Mitchell (senior vice president of Imagine Entertainment and a producer of “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” and other films) and Abrams. Choreography is by Lorin Latarro (Broadway’s “Waitress”), with music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations by Brian Usifer.
The team also includes Derek McLane (scenic design), UC San Diego grad Paloma Young (costume design), Howell Binkley (lighting design), John Shivers (co-sound design), David Patridge (co-sound design) and Anjee Nero (production stage manager). McLane, Young, Binkley and Shivers are all Tony Award winners.
The show is presented by special arrangement with Mitchell, W. Leo Kiely, Bill Kiely, Whitney Kiely Moehle and Tamar Climan.
Huey Lewis and the News made their biggest splash with the 1983 album “Sports,” which spawned four Top 10 singles: “If This Is It,” “Heart and Soul,” “I Want a New Drug” and “The Heart of Rock & Roll.”
The New York-born, Marin County-raised Lewis, lead vocalist and harmonica player for the News, also fronted the band on the No. 1 hit “The Power of Love” from the 1985 movie “Back to the Future.”
That tune was nominated for an Oscar, and the song “Back in Time” became the second Lewis hit from the movie.
The band’s brand of polished, good-time music — which hit the airwaves and, crucially, MTV in the midst of the generally edgier New Wave explosion of the ‘80s — was maybe best summed up by the cheekily titled ‘86 hit “Hip to Be Square.”
In all, Lewis and the News have sold more than 30 million albums, and continue to tour; they performed at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego last August.
While no Broadway aspirations have been voiced yet for “Heart of Rock and Roll,” the Globe is a nationally renowned launching ground for new musicals, including such eventual Broadway successes as “Into the Woods,” “The Full Monty” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
“Everyone at the Globe is beyond excited to have Huey Lewis’ thrilling songs open our 2018–2019 season in this rocking and rollicking new musical,” said Barry Edelstein, the Globe’s Erna Finci Viterbi artistic director, in the theater’s announcement.
The show “tells a sweet story of how our wildest dreams sometimes do come true, only in slightly different ways than we imagined.”
Tickets to “Heart of Rock and Roll” are currently available by subscription only; call (619) 234-5623 or go to theoldglobe.org.
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